My wife and I have been on several cruises. We both measure the quality of our cruise experience by considering the following features:
- Ease of booking
- Comfort of accommodations
- Friendliness of staff
Both the ease of booking and the cost were unbeatable. The RCCL website is simple to use, we were able to get the exact cabin we wanted, and the price we paid was the lowest per night per person rate that I have ever paid. This area for RCCL nets a "5".
Our cabin was a standard outside on Deck 5. I have to admit that it was one of the smallest cabins I have ever been in. Not that it wasn't comfortable but there were issues. The bathroom would not (actually could not) fit more than one person. The A/C in the room did not work especially at night. I was traveling with a group and each of the cabins suffered this same issue. Apparently either the ship's overall A/C is in need of repair or more likely RCCL is somehow cutting their overhead cost by cutting the A/C down or off. The closet space was adequate and additional storage beneath the bunks meant that what little living space we had wasn't wasted by being taken up by
by suitcases and such. Overall I would rate the cabin at a "2". Definitely below average but not completely failing.
The food on board the Monarch was all wonderful. As with every other cruise on which we have traveled, we were able to sample a variety of different foods all of which was well presented, tasty, and plentiful. Without hesitation the food earned a solid "5".
As with the food, the friendliness of the staff can make or break a cruising experience. Unfortunately two people on the Monarch are in need of remedial training in the realm of how to speak to customers. While I did not obtain their names, the dark haired woman with a heavy Middle Eastern accent working in the jewelry shop and the blond woman working at the Crown and Anchor desk both were very good at being rude and abrasive. In the jewelry shop our request to see a watch went ignored even after being repeated from under 3 feet away. (we were the only customers in the shop and she was setting up a display - never even stopped to acknowledge us) and the woman in the Crown and Anchor office basically seemed annoyed by our question. Overall, because everyone else was so professional, courteous, and friendly the ship's staff earns a "4".
Finally there was the entertainment. Included in this is the Ports of Call, the on board "things to do", the entertainment in the lounges, and anything else that would be considered fun. Without hesitation the Monarch earned a solid "5" in the category. If you are bored on board, it's your own fault. The Cruise Director and the entire staff goes above and beyond in order to assure that guest are having fun.
The summary of my review is simple and can be answered by replying to the single most important question. "Would I recommend this ship and cruise to others?" My reply is absolutely. So long, that is, as those booking go into things knowing that their cabin is going to be small (unless they book a suite), and the A/C might not keep it as cool as you are used to. This smallest of the ships in the RCCL fleet really offers up a true bargain in cruising and I would definitely jump on the chance to travel on her again.